Tag Archives: Colorado

Another twist in the tail…

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Well, the storm that was forecast to hit Colorado this weekend (see previous blog post) certainly didn’t disappoint! Just when it looked like the fat lady in the sky was about to sing, she started puking pow!

Breckenridge received 8 inches of snow in 24 hours, and, in an ironic twist that would make Ms Morissette wail, Aspen got 13 inches, just in time for its closing day! Still, it must have been a pretty epic closing day!

...to this. In a couple of days!

These pictures show just what a difference a couple of days have made, providing yet another twist in the tale of the tail, of this crazy season!

Breckenridge is open until the end of the month, so there’s still time to enjoy its revitalised slopes…

Thanks again to Pip from Powderbeds.com for the pre-storm photo. Typically she had left before the arrival of the fresh snow, so the second picture is courtesy of the lucky people at Aspen Snowmass.

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Winter 2011/12: a season of surprises and mixed fortunes

Fresh snow in Argentière on Wednesday

Winter 2011/12 really has been a season of surprises and mixed fortunes. In Europe, it started with a worrying lack of snow, but within a matter of days had gone from one extreme to another, leading to lock down in certain resorts, and some of the best snow records in recent years. Then early March saw the premature onset of spring, which brought temperatures more commonly associated with summer. Fortunately the fantastic base that had accumulated earlier in the season managed to withstand the prolonged period of high temperatures and minimal snow, but by early April it was beginning to look as though the end might be nigh.

However, in keeping with the twists and turns of the season, this week has seen winter return to the Alps, replenishing the pistes in certain resorts with more than 20cm of snow, and ensuring that the season definitely isn’t over yet!

A very bare looking Aspen Highlands earlier this week

Unfortunately it isn’t quite the same story over in parts of the US, where they’ve had a pretty dismal season. In Colorado, spring has well and truly set in, and without a substantial base to withstand the high temperatures, the snow has started to retreat rapidly. Pip Holmes from Powderbeds.com has been out in Colorado for the past week and sent these pictures, which show the extent of the thaw. Unsurprisingly Aspen have announced that they’ve decided to close Aspen Highlands this Sunday, well before its scheduled closing date.

It’s a completely different story up in Canada though, where it’s been dumping all season. In Whistler they’ve had an incredible 13.4m of snow so far, and the end still seems a long way off. It’s also a similar story in Banff and Lake Louise where they’re pretty close to beating their annual snowfall record.

Breckenridge on Thursday

It’s even been snowing again here in Scotland, just days after we were basking in some of the hottest March temperatures on record. Sadly it’s been too little too late to make much impact on the ski areas, in what has been a disappointing season compared to the past couple of years. Cairngorm is hanging in there (they had 3cm on Thursday night), but there’s very limited terrain open.

So, conditions couldn’t be more different across the board as winter draws to a close (or doesn’t, as the case may be!), but if the earlier part of the season is anything to go by, anything could still happen. There’s even a storm forecast to hit Colorado today, which could bring a massive dump of snow! As good ol’ Lenny once sang, “It ain’t over (baby) ‘til it’s over…”.

Whatever conditions winter 11/12 has brought, one thing’s for sure: it’s definitely been a season to remember!

What have been your highlights (or lowlights) of the season? Leave a comment below… I’d love to hear from you!

Word off the piste

Sorry, not that kind of off piste. I mean off piste as in sitting in front of a computer in the UK kind of off piste. A long way off piste…

Les Arcs 1950 basking in warm sunshine yesterday. Photo: Michael Bennett

And while I’d obviously love to be out in the mountains experiencing off piste in the true sense of the word, I don’t mind too much because when I’m not in the mountains, I spend my time doing the next best thing in my eyes, which is writing about them. I recently started freelance writing full time and have been so busy that I’ve barely had time to lament the length of time that’s passed since my last trip to the mountains (admittedly only 4 weeks… and I said barely). I couldn’t be happier than doing this kind of work (unless of course, I could be based in the mountains too!) and the only downside to spending all my time writing for other people’s websites is the fact that I haven’t had time to dedicate to my own, hence the recent lack of posts…

But I’m also starting to lack inspiration. After all, there’s only so long you can write/talk/read about something you love without craving the real thing. Fortunately though, I’m heading back out to the mountains in less than a week, and excitement levels are building rapidly.

… And on

The slopes around 6 chair in Breckenridge yesterday

After the (relatively) recent bitterly cold spell in the Alps, it’s now ridiculously warm and spring has well and truly set in. Yesterday temperatures were forecast to hit 14c! Fortunately with all the snow that’s fallen this season, this early onset of spring is not hampering conditions too much and it’s still pretty good out there. Michael Bennett, MD of Powderbeds.com and Ski Independence, who’s out in Les Arcs 1950 at the moment reported excellent on piste conditions despite the sunshine and warm temperatures that they’ve received all week. However, I have heard that there’s snow forecast for the beginning of next week, just in time for my arrival!

Earlier in the season while Europe was being dumped on, North America were experiencing a distinct lack of snow, but things have turned around and they’re finally getting their share of the season’s snowfall. Certain resorts in Colorado awoke to 10 inches of fresh pow yesterday morning with more forecast for today. The fantastic conditions have allowed Breckenridge to finally open some of its best terrain over by 6 chair and the pictures look sweet!

Colorado cravings

Last week I was asked to write a guest post for Boardstylist on my favourite snow destination, which was an absolute pleasure to do, but it really got me yearning for a return to Colorado where I spent a season in 2008/9, and have been desperate to revisit ever since.

And as if writing about it hadn’t been enough to stir up feelings of longing, later in the week I then attended a work function hosted by Vail Resorts, during which they tormented us with footage of wide open, powder filled bowls, bluebird skies and the tantalising prospect of winning a holiday there.

Fresh, untracked powder and blue sky. How could you be anything other than blissfully happy?!

Later, as I reminisced about my season in Colorado and time spent cruising around Vail’s Blue Sky Basin, times where I felt wholeheartedly happy, it occurred to me that interspersed among these periods of elation that I experienced on the mountain, were a fair number of equally low points.

My decision to spend a winter in Vail came from a need to escape a job that had started to make me desperately unhappy, and the pain of a deteriorating relationship. But as anyone who’s tried to do similar knows, although a change of scenery can offer a quick fix, the emotional scars have a nasty habit of lingering, no matter how beautiful the scenery.

However, the mountains did offer sanctuary, and any feelings of melancholy that I was experiencing evaporated the instant I strapped on my board at the top of the Mountaintop Express and slid off into the soft powder and euphoric mental state that ensued.

So, when I broke my ankle and suddenly found myself barely able to leave the apartment, let alone hit the foot of fresh pow that inevitably started to fall immediately after, it was a pretty dark time.

The sanctuary of Blue Sky Basin, Vail

But still when I think of times when I’ve felt happiest, it’s on the slopes in Colorado that come to mind every time. The highs that I experienced out there easily eclipsed what were some of the lowest lows I’ve ever had. Memories of those highs are still very much alive inside me and they resurface at the slightest thought of powder and blue skies, manifesting themselves in a deep urge to be back out there.

I know it’s a cliché, but for me, snowboarding and being in the mountains really is better than any drug. It even eases notoriously incurable maladies, from hangovers to a broken heart. I only wish it was an outlet that was more readily available to me.

Unfortunately, like a drug, it’s also addictive, and the come down that you experience when a holiday or the season ends can be intense, particularly if it happens abruptly.

It’s been too long since my last fix of Colorado powder and I really am craving another hit. And seeing as my season there was cut cruelly short, I do think it’s high time for a return trip. I’m just gutted that I didn’t win that holiday…!

Click here to read my guest post on Colorado for Boardstylist

Do the mountains have this effect on anyone else, or is it just me?! Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Cocktails from Colorado

Last night Aspen Snowmass hosted their annual ‘appreciation night’ to thank London based industry partners for their hard work promoting the Colorado ski resort.

Aspen - definitely not a hard sell

Championing Aspen is hardly a difficult task, but they always reward us with a fantastic evening which provides a great opportunity to hear about the latest developments in resort as well as catch up with their team and fellow London based contemporaries.

The drinks always flow when Aspen come to town and this year was no exception as entertainment took the form of a cocktail mixology session held in Browns Courtrooms in Covent Garden. Groups of Tom Cruise wannabes gathered round individual bar stations equipped with shakers, fruit and, most importantly, lots of booze, and learned how to create a variety of different cocktails ranging from dainty and delicious French Martinis to rather more potent, but still dangerously drinkable, Zombies.

Giving a crowd of ski industry employees free reign of a fully stocked bar and encouraging them to free pour is a bold move and there were some extremely strong concoctions being consumed by the end of the evening. There will undoubtedly have been a few sore heads this morning but I’m sure everyone will agree that it was a fantastic evening!

Many thanks to Ellen Spitzbart and the team from Aspen Snowmass for hosting the event and to Mixology for a giving us a great taste of the art of, well, mixology!